Kate Lester, 45, started Guildford-based Diamond Logistics in 1992, and it now provides blue-chip corporations, small businesses and online shopfronts with a nationwide network of delivery and storage options. It ranked at No 65 in the 2016 Sunday Times Fast Track 100.
What inspired you to start your business?
My mum and dad having their own business. I was empowered pretty early on to run my mum’s boutique in Perth, Australia, when she wasn’t there. Then after two disastrous jobs in the UK, I was determined to be mistress of my own destiny. I started Diamond aged 20.
What has been your biggest challenge?
People – they never fail to delight, or conversely, disappoint.
What has been your best business decision?
Expanding our services and geography in 2011 – we now have a network of 25 franchisees across the UK.
What has been your worst business decision?
So many to choose from! Not getting contracts signed, sealed and delivered when we have provided consultancy services was naïve and costly. And believing reports at face-value without asking for the supporting information.
Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?
It would have been Anita Roddick, but I’ll take Richard Branson as a close second ;). Why? Because he’s all about culture, and it has successfully permeated all of his companies, which is no mean feat. Plus he’s quirky and I love a rebel.
What company do you most admire, and why?
Dyson, for being a 100% founder-owned innovator and manufacturer.
Also Pret, for providing great service and lovely people everywhere and delicious products.